Sin of Rebellion

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed in the Garden for a specific reason. It was a boundary. It was the one area of the Garden reserved for God. God placed this tree in the center of the garden and told Adam and Eve not to eat its fruit. Doing so would mean that they would have knowledge or awareness of not only good things but also evil things. The Hebrew word for evil that is used in the tree's description — ra‘ — implies a sense of misery or grief. It points to something extremely sorrowful. Adam and Eve had beautiful trees full of life. But this tree opened up a new world, one that held misery and sorrow and grief. Adam and Eve’s sin opened up the world of misery and sorrow and grief.

Pastor Mark Flynn refers to sin this way, “Sin is much bigger than the wrong actions we do or bad thoughts we have…Sin is the state of rebellion against God that causes us to ask at every juncture, ‘do I choose to be obedient to God?’ The ‘wrong’ actions, words, or thoughts are an outgrowth of nurturing the rebellions against God.”

Rebellion is first and actions follow. Both involve our CHOICE.

Sin is not the action of eating the forbidden eat. It is the initial rebellious decision to disobey God. The result of sin (disobedience to God) is that it breaks the order of creation. The immediate consequence of their sin is shame and fear. They now have a broken relationship with God, the same God who gave them the original blessing, the God who created them and blessed them as very good. The couple’s relationship with their Creator God is changed by their sin.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

They now hide from God and see God as a threat and they fear his punishment. This is why they hide from him.  But notice the first question that God asks – “Where are you?” What does this question tell us about God?

God pursues us. The first question God asks shows us how God recognizes we are not near to him and so he calls us back. This is the question he asks throughout the stories of Scripture. He begins his relentless pursuit of us from the very beginning of creation. From the first sin we see that God is pursuing man. His greatest desire is for us to respond to his pursuit by running to him. When we stray, he still wants us to return to him.

Where does God find you? Running toward him or away from him? God wants to extend his love and mercy and grace.

Six Bible Covenants

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

To hear an audio of the Covenant lesson, click here. Covenants
The original blessing is that we are created and blessed as very good in God’s sight.
The original sin of rebellion is a rejection of God and God’s blessing.
Brokenness is the term that describes the fundamental disorder in creation that affects a person's relationships and creative activity.

 God will eventually restore creation to the original blessing. While we wait, God uses his faithful followers to transform the world. He uses covenants to keep the faithful on track.

 Covenants are pacts established by God to reconnect the people of God with the Creator.

 Let’s consider six great Bible covenants.

 1.    God's Covenant with Adam and Eve – Genesis 1-2
God created Adam and Eve to live in the garden and enjoy fellowship with God. They were given the boundary: do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve’s responsibility was to be obedient. They were to live within the boundary.

The family form of this covenant was man and wife.

2.    God's Covenant with Noah - Genesis 6:5-9:17

The Lord singled out Noah from among all his contemporaries and chose him as the man to accomplish a great work.
When God saw the wickedness that prevailed in the world, he told Noah of his plan to destroy the world by a universal flood. God instructed Noah to build an ark in which he and his family would survive. This responsibility meant that Noah had to act. He had to do something! With confidence in God, Noah started building the ark. Noah continued to preach God's judgment and mercy but people continued in their evil ways and ignored his pleadings and warnings until the flood overtook them. Noah was grateful to the Lord who had delivered him from the flood. After the flood, he built an altar to God and made a sacrifice. God made a covenant promise to Noah when he promised never again to destroy the earth with a flood. As a sign of the covenant, he gave the beautiful rainbow.

The family form used in this covenant was the traditional family.

3.  God's Covenant with Abraham - Genesis 12
Years after the Flood, pride leads the people to rebel against God by constructing the tower of Babel. After having scattered them all over the world, God would eventually choose one man and one nation as the instrument of His blessing to the entire world. In his covenant with Abraham, God asked him to leave his home and family and go to an unnamed land. Abraham had a responsibility to be obedient to God. Like Noah, he had to “act.” God promised to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation and bless all of the nations through his lineage. From Abraham’s line came the 12 tribes of Israel.

The family form used in this covenant was the family tribe.

4.   God's Covenant with Moses - Exodus 6:1-9, 19:1-8, 24:1-8
In this covenant God gives his divine laws to Moses on Mount Sanai. Once again, we see how God uses people. At 80 years old and having traveled the desert for 3 months, Moses followed God and walked up the mountain in full obedience. The blessings that God promised in this covenant are directly related to Israel’s obedience to the Mosaic Law.  If Israel is obedient, then God will bless them, but if they disobey, then God will punish them.  God’s intention was to build a holy nation of people who obeyed his laws.

The family form of this covenant was a holy nation.

5.   God's Covenant with David  - 2 Samuel 7:1-7
After the people disobeyed the commands made in the previous covenant, God made a covenant with David as a means to bring them back into relationship with Himself. God makes an unconditional covenant to David and his descendants and promises that his house will rule over Israel forever. The promise that David’s “house,” “kingdom,” and “throne” will be established forever is significant because it shows that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David

The family form in this covenant is an eternal royal kingdom

6. The Covenant of Christ  - Luke 22:14-20

Jesus gathers his disciples for the Passover meal and tells of his upcoming sacrificial death that will usher in a new covenant. The "new covenant" is the new agreement God has made with mankind, based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The new covenant accomplished what the old could not. It fulfills the old covenant. Christ death takes away our sin The shedding of his blood means that all animal sacrifice is obsolete.

The family form for this covenant is a universal worldwide Kingdom, or His Church

Notice how the family form progressed with each of God's six covenants - man and wife, family, tribe, nation, kingdom, universal worldwide kingdom.  What a beautiful image of the family is presented through the covenants. We see with each covenant God reveals more of himself until he is revealed fully in Jesus Christ. Even while man failed time after time, God has been true to each of his covenants.  

We too live in a covenant relationship with our Creator God. Our relationship with Jesus is based upon covenant. When we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we began a relationship. At the time of our confession, repentance and trust in Jesus, we entered into a covenant. Our goal in our relationship with Christ is to become pleasing to God in every part of our lives. He wants to bless us and give us eternal life in him.


Brokenness: Out of Hiding

Thursday, September 4, 2014

(Click here to here the audio on my Brokenness lesson from Genesis 3 & 4 - Brokenness).
Have you ever tried to hide from God? We see in the creation account in Genesis that from the first sin, man attempted to hide from God. After Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s boundary and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they felt shame and hid. They experienced brokenness.

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

When we sin, God works to restore our relationship with him, not to severe it. But Adam and Eve hid out of shame and fear. Do you ever hide from God?

Our attempts to hide from God are as childish as the two year old who covers his eyes and believes no one can see him. Instead of covering her eyes, my three year old granddaughter Stella does something else to become invisible. She closes the invisible door on you. She says “I’m gonna close the door.” Out of sight…out of mind. My nephew Chase was taking care of Stella at the hospital when her baby brother was about to be born. Stella was playing in the garden right next to a sidewalk and enjoying stacking rocks and moving them around in her play area. A stranger began to approach. Stella looked up and saw him, and then shut the invisible door and continued her play. She couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see her. Stella was hiding.

Hiding is what we do when we want to avoid someone, when we’re afraid, when we’re ashamed, when we know we’ve messed up but we don’t want to face the consequences. Hiding is a result of some kind of brokenness. Do you ever find yourself hiding from God? We sometimes hide from God when we run into hard times and sometimes when life seems to just grand. We make excuses for not reading his word, or having a devotional time, or attending worship services, or serving others. Hiding from God keeps us from His presence.

When we hide, God continues to pursue us. God pursued Adam and Eve and when we do wrong, God still pursues us. He wants us to stop running from him and run TO him so that we can realign ourselves with the healthy order of creation. To be “righteous” and experience “right living” means to be in correct alignment with God, other creatures, and the earth. Adam and Eve had gotten out of alignment with God.  When we do wrong, it’s because we have gotten out of alignment.

How do you know when you are out of alignment?

Something in our mind, body, spirit is just not right when we are out of alignment. Our mind, body, and spirit turn on an axis. The very center of that axis is God.
When our mind, body, or spirit is not fully aligned with God, it will show up!  Being out of alignment always shows up! We suffer in some way in our emotional, physical, or spiritual life when we aren’t “line up” with God. When our mind or body or spirit is not lined up, God calls out to us, “Where are you?” He wants us to come out of our brokenness and our hiding, receive his grace and mercy, and re-align our mind, body and spirit. Let’s come out of hiding and run to God. He will not turn us away.



Lessons from Creation

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

By looking at the actions God took in creating the world, we learn lessons for our own daily responsibilities. We find ourselves in God’s story. Just as God created the greatest story on earth, He created us and allowed us to write our own stories. His desire is that we write our story according to his great plan for us. We can learn what we need to know about story writing by looking at how God wrote his story.

 1.    God used order and purpose in creation.

God had a plan and a purpose for each part of creation. He was methodical. Everything was done in his order and in his timing. There was a strategy, a plan of creation. God created with intention. It was not haphazard, accidental, or willy nilly. No, it was in order and on purpose.. Creation functions best when we are in right alignment with God. This concept of right order lies behind the idea of "right - eousness." To be "righteous" means to be in correct alignment with God, other creatures, and the earth. 

What can we learn from God’s order? How important is it for us to live an orderly life? The Bible tells us there is a time for everything and purpose for everything under heaven. This is a reminder to us to live an intentional life.

2.    God used creative and wildly imaginative powers.  in making the heavens, earth, and man.

Consider this: Everything that has ever been created was once imagined.

We learn in the creation passage that we are created in the image of God. This means we too have been created as creative beings with spectacular imaginations. The imagination is a powerful, often overlooked, gift from God for creating loving relationships with God, our neighbors and ourselves. When reading passages in the Bible we read words for information, but it is the imagination that pulls the heart with its feelings and passion into the process of creation. When we engage our heart and mind, we allow God to move within us in a multi-dimensional way. We become fully engaged in the power of the Bible and the accounts that we read.

How does viewing the Creation story from the perspective of a vivid imagination and wild creativity change our understanding of creation? Of God?

What aspects of creation do you find most imaginative?

Do you approach our work with creativity? Do you engage your mind and spirit in the work we do? Do you use your imagination in problem solving?

3.     God was pleased with his creation.

Six times in this process of creation God stopped, looked over his handiwork and saw that it was good. On that final inspection he actually pronounced his work as “very good.” Once again, we are reminded that we are created in the image of our Father. He is pleased with his creation. He is pleased with us. God likes me; he really likes me.  He is proud of the way he made me.

Are we able to look at the work we do, the goals we accomplish, the relationships we build and say, “This is good!” or “ This is very good!”? Clearly, God enjoyed the work he did? Can you say the same? Does your work bring pleasure? If not, what changes need to take place? We learn from God that he stops periodically in the creation process to evaluate his work. Is there anything wrong with feeling good about our accomplishments?

4.    God made us in his image.

In verse 26, God says, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us...." Is this the “royal” we/us? Or is this a reference to the Trinity. He uses the plural just as he begins to create human beings. How interesting to think that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all part of the creation process! God gave us his traits, his characteristics.

 Do you see yourself as God sees you? What is the reflection in the mirror?

Because we are made in God’s image, we can feel positive about ourselves. God is pleased with his creation of you. If you feel worthless or of little value, remember that God sees you as a beautiful child of a king. Criticizing or downgrading yourself is criticizing God’s creation.

5.    God rested.

We don’t know why God rested but he must have thought it was important. We learn that after days of work, God chose to spend time resting. We too should find the time to rest and reflect after a period of work. This period of rest will renew our bodies, souls, and spirits.

 Do you find a time to rest and reflect after a period of work?

The Creation story provides us many lessons from our Creator God about living our best lives today!
The audio link below is my lesson on God's Original Blessing found in Genesis 1 & 2.
God's Original Blessing

A Time for Evaluating

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The account of Gideon in the book of Judges provides an inspirational example of a reluctant leader. Our first impression of Gideon is of him hiding in a wine press threshing wheat. He was so terrified of the Midianites so he hid from them and tried to secretly get a little bit of food for his family.  God saw not the weaknesses of a fearful man, but the strengths of a leader and called Gideon to accomplish something big.

In Judges 6 & 7 we watch as Gideon moves from despair to disappointment to doubt to discouragement and eventually to dependence on God. Gideon leads an Israelite army who is equipped only with trumpets, torches, and jars to become victorious in one of the strangest battles in history.

Accomplishing God's purposes is not determined by the size of our checkbook, the number of initials after our name, or the size of our congregation. God is looking to glorify Himself on earth through people who are fully dependent on Him. He wants people who are willing to trust in him and allow him to use their strengths, gifts, talents, and skills for his glory. He invites us to join him in doing His will. He wants us to want to serve him and work for him.  He wants us to “Get up!” and go for him just as Gideon did.

To hear this one hour lesson A Time for Evaluating, click on the link below.

Set Sail for Christ

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Have you ever tried to set sail – to step out to do something new – only to find out that something was keeping you anchored in place? Many things keep us anchored.

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters is a series of short biographical poems about the people who lived in the fictional town, Spoon River.  One of the characters, George Gray, looks back over his life and compares it to “a boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.”  George was offered many opportunities and was hungry to find meaning in his life. He knew he should have left the harbor and set sail in order to fully experience life. However, George was afraid. He feared becoming disillusioned, and he dreaded taking chances. So…George never set sail.  He longed for the sea yet was afraid.

Let’s contrast George Gray with Simon Peter, also a man with a boat. Like his father and brother Andrew, Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade, working on the Lake of Galilee, a really large lake with about 30 fishing towns surround it.  Peter knew fish, he knew boating, he knew about nets and he knew about navigating the waters. Peter knew his passion and used his skill well. He learned his skill, he practiced it. He became good at it. Peter realized what he was good at doing and set sail. 

Are you more like George Gray…fearful to set out in faith and use your gifts and talents for Christ? Or are you like Simon Peter….stepping out in faith using your gifts and talents for Christ?

In the 10 minute audio below I teach 6 lessons that we learn from Simon Peter that will help us set sail for Christ.

Lesson #1: Peter set sail.

Lesson #2:   Peter followed Jesus.

Lesson #3 – Peter let Jesus use him and his tools.

Lesson #4: Peter was all in for Jesus.

Lesson #5 – Peter trusted Jesus in the storm

Lesson #6:  Peter faced his fear and walked on water for Christ
Audio - Set Sail for Christ

A Time for Healing

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wounds can be physical, emotional, and spiritual. In our faith journeys we often get wounded. Wounds stem from many different sources: abuse, unfaithfulness, divorce, unhealthy relationships, bullying, neglect, poor self-image, etc. Most people bear some kind of wound, and some people unfortunately harbor multiple unhealed wounds and scars.
 Are you wounded? Do you suffer from any of these symptoms
·         Perfectionism
·         Feelings of guilt and shame
·         Feeling you’re never good enough
·         Low self-image
·         Self-hatred
·         Critical spirit
·         Insecurity
·         Jealousy
·         Bitterness
·         Rage

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you could berunning wounded.”

Do you recognize these as symptoms of being wounded? Sometimes we overlook the cause and continue with the symptoms. We try to fit in, act properly, or we often live in denial about our wounds. We think if we ignore them, they will go away. We justify our wounds and try to be good, not rock the boat, and be in control. These are attempts to live above the wound.

Running wounded and living above the wound have effects on our physical, spiritual, and emotional health. We focus on the negatives instead of positives. We see the impossibilities instead of the possibilities, and we are filled with fear instead of faith.

The focus on problems, difficulties, and the blows of life leave you sapped of energy, discouraged, and fearful. When we focus on our problems instead of our solutions, we are living in our weaknesses. This focus will have an effect on our spiritual journey.

Steps to Receive Healing for Wounds
1.  ACKNOWLEDGE the need for healing
2.  LOCATE the cause of the pain.
3.  CLEANSE the wound.
4.  RECEIVE HEALING of the hurt.
5.  STRENGTHEN the weak area.

How do we gain strength when we’ve been wounded?  Let’s look at 4 P’s to help us gain strength.
1.    Prayer
2.    Promises in Scripture
3.    Positive Affirmations
4.    Positive Christian support

As we gain strength in our weak areas, let us remember never to waste our wounds. We use all that we have experienced to provide love and encouragement to others who are wounded.
David's plea in Psalm 40 is for emotional healing. It gives us hope also for healing.

Psalm 40

 1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
       he turned to me and heard my cry.
 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
       out of the mud and mire;
       he set my feet on a rock
       and gave me a firm place to stand.
 3 He put a new song in my mouth,
       a hymn of praise to our God.

 Click on the link below to hear my 1 hour lesson on A Time for Healing. 
 A Time for Healing by Dr. Cathy Robbs Turner

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